While Texas might be famous for big fossils, oil drilling and cattle, it’s never been a state on the top list of rock hounding goldmine sites per se.
That said, the Lone Star State does have more than a few locations that could be interesting if one knows where to look.
Rockhounding Near Dallas, Texas (A Visitor’s Guide)
The information provided in this article by YesDirt.com is for informational purposes and is subject to change. Laws are updated. Accessibility guidelines and restrictions change. Be sure to confirm the land status and collection rules before you travel to an unfamiliar location or collect any material.
Outside the Dallas area, which is primarily considered oil or cattle country, there are locations that can promise adventures as a result of old mining dumps as well as rivers, creeks and streams that have cut through the earth and exposed otherwise known deposits now visible to visitors looking for them.
The outer Dallas area is also experiencing significant growth, which means serious land changes, road cuts, and reshaping.
All that big equipment tends to expose some interesting finds as well.
One particular find is unique to Texas in general, and the lucky rockhound who finds it will hit the jackpot.
That treasure is the blue topaz.
Rare and hardly found anywhere else except New Mexico, the blue topaz appears frequently in Texas, enough to be known as the state’s official gemstone.
Near Dallas there won’t be much as it’s usually closer to the New Mexico border, but samples have been found.
Other common enough minerals in the greater part of Texas include silver, petrified wood, agate, jasper, chalcedony, quartz, and lots of barite.
Dallas itself, however, tends to be more of a fossil magnet.
Rockhounds in the area regularly discuss and show off various fossilized samples, ranging from bona fide dinosaurs to frozen vegetation, insects and shell-life from billions of years earlier.
With all the typical bone finds, there are rock treasures mixed in here and there.
Dallas rockhounds have regularly identified deposits or samples of jasper, limestone, oolitic and petrified wood, especially near the area of the North Sulfur River.
The findings are sparse but definitely present.
Mineral Wells Fossil Park
With a driving distance of about 80 miles or under an hour and half southwest of Dallas, one will get to Mineral Wells.
It sits on Indian Creek Road and is home for the Mineral Wells Fossil Park.
Whether into fossils, rocks or both, the Fossil Park is an ideal starting location for visitors and experienced folks alike.
Not to mention, with the entrance fee, visitors get to keep fossils they find that are from the Pennsylvanian Period per local reference.
Technically, most of the fossils located at this Park run an average of about 300 million years when dated for age.
Most of the fossils will be of prior plant life or bugs.
The area was definitely home to an ancient swamp and wetlands zone before it became dry and changed to an inland zone.
Ancient sea lilies, water plants, and stalks are common findings fossilized in local rocks and sedimentary strata.
An exception to the rule would be the finding of crinoids.
These look like plant stalks in fossils but they were actually creatures, not flora.
The Perot Museum
If you’re having one of those days or weekends where you can’t get out of town on a long drive but you’re in Dallas proper, then the Perot Museum of Nature and Science is a rockhound’s inner city friend.
Named after the family of Ross Perot, the famous Texan millionaire who tried to run for president in the 1980s, the museum is a big collector and display of a wide assortment of crystals, gems and minerals.
Not to mention, they have a very robust fossil collection as well in their T. Boone Pickens Hall in the same facility.
The Dallas General Region
Much of the Dallas area sees a lot of samples of rocks and fossils from the Cretaceous Period.
Dating-wise, these samples typically run in the age bracket of 90 to 115 million years in the last.
As noted earlier, a good amount of Dallas proper findings are going to be water-based or some kind of marine life.
A typical example how the Texas area with higher ocean levels was generally under water or wetlands in ancient times.
In fact, most geologists estimate that a good amount of Texas and definitely the Texas area was under water during a good part of the period when dinosaurs existed, which brought in a tremendous amount of sedimentary levels that buried dead sea-like and marine organisms that died off over time.
Today, many of these deposits are regularly found in the Trinity River area as well as around and in break-off areas, arms, creeks and streams.
In fact, the burying of organisms lasted for so long, even recent fossils of mammoths as well as of bison have been found in the region around and in the Trinity River.
Dallas, geologically, has six areas of different sedimentary timezones, all of which produce different rocks and minerals as well as fossils.
These include alluvium, ozan, Austin chalk, woodbine, limestone, and clay.
Gravel bars in the area tend to be some of the best places locally to look for fossils.
Much of their material is sedimentary, and when the weather comes in with hard rains or some localized flooding, it will strip bare new finds and deposits.
Terraces around the Trinity River again tend to be great locations for local day walks and periodic hunting as well for the same reasons.
As the river slowly moves around and cuts new paths, new outcroppings are made, exposing otherwise hidden findings.
It is quite common for folks to find larger fossils to organisms like bison, camels, early horses and mammoth.
Another big area for finding fossils and some rock samples involves the Austin Chalk.
This region is also known to many local geologists as the White Rock Escarpment.
The particular area provides a wide assortment of water-borne fossils such as flagellate type creatures and other ancient ocean microorganisms.
For the most part, the Austin Chalk is pretty much half of Dallas County, and samples are usually found where there are deposits of limestone.
East of Grand Prairie, Irving the Austin Chalk sits prominently, and has lots of faults and cracks in it to go hunting for samples and rock hounding.
Folks don’t need to worry about any major movement or landslides; the zone in general has been stable for thousands of years.
Lastly, the Eagle Ford is a big resource, specifically for fossil hunters.
The area is well known for producing larger fossils of ocean-going dinosaur creatures, including samples of mesosaur specimens once in a great while.
Fossil hunters will definitely find samples of fish, marine creatures and shellfish, and a peppering of shark teeth.
In some cases, keen fossil hunters have even been able to recover crab fossils from the area.
Focus More on Biology
Again, Texas in general and Dallas in particular are not known for being hot rock and mineral locations.
While the Dallas region does have specimens in small locations and clumps, its big donation to rock hounding tends to be fossils.
For those who like to find samples of creatures and plantlife from millions of years ago, much of the greater Dallas region will qualify, especially around and near bank beds of major rivers and creeks.
And, as always, make sure to be careful of private land rights.
Texas in general is a big proponent of private land stakes and claims, with a large amount of rural area actually being privately owned and not public land.